Offering Hedge Cuttings

Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby Morgan Sweet » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:02 am

I am after some clarification regarding cutting neighbours overhanging hedges/trees. It seems a common convention on forums that you should offer any cuttings back ( I have never done so ) but is this stated in law? If cutting back a leylandi hedge I just cut back hard to the boundary, the cuttings in my view have no worth, however if it was an overhanging apple tree with fruit then naturally I would offer the apples to the owner as they have worth and are his property. I have cut miles of hedges in my time mostly with a tractor and flail cutter and never offered any overhanging branches back to anyone in over forty seven years or heard of any other rural contractor offering cuttings back. However recently since many town people have moved into the countryside and bought pieces of agricultural land to extend their gardens they all seem to plant Leylandi hedges on their boundaries. These hedges are said to be poisonous to some livestock and also grow out and push over stock fencing so I just flail any overhanging branches back hard but the hedge owners are not happy that the field sides of their hedges are all brown and dying. Some say that I must give them back their branches (after flail cutting there is not much of any branches left) I have politely replied take me to court, I have yet to receive any summons. Does anyone know for sure the legal aspects of cutting back hedges and trees to a boundary. I read that you should discuss overhanging branches with neighbours but this is not practical I can't spend time checking land registry details and negotiating- I just want to cut hedges back to the boundary.
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby arsie » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:32 am

Hi. I understand exactly where you are coming from and sympathise.

The trees are their property and so strictly speaking any offcuts are theirs. You are correct you are legally entitle to cut back overhanging branches to the boundary; however, should this cause the plants to die, you could be held liable in court for damages to their property.

I suppose it is possible an OCD gardener/tree person with time on their hands could take you to the small claims court. That could be a call on your time when you least need it ... But unless it were some prize-winning garden and trees I can't see anyone injuncting successfully and taking you to the main courts, with the attendant legal expenses and there is always a risk of losing.

They moved to the country and bought houses bordering fields - most people would kill for that situation, not overlooked etc. Any judge in a rural area is going to see this situation as it is.

If possible, perhaps if you allow a few feet/cut carefully the Leylandii won't die back on your side - but, they can't see it from their gardens, so who cares? It baffles me why they would want to block the view of open fields with an ever changing vista as the seasons roll round. I suppose every Englishman's house is his castle :roll:

I would tell any moaners they have free access to claim the flailings. But shut that gate and don't trample valuable crops/spook the cows. Farmers may shoot dogs if they worry stock animals.
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby mr sheen » Sat Jun 06, 2015 1:47 pm

In theory they are right. You should offer the a risings back. However this goes back to olde worlde life when fruit was worth something and so cutting off branches and keeping the fruit was considered theft. It is most unlikely that anyone can do anything at all about you carrying out normal practices today in an agricultural area.

Personally, your response to the incomers with their nuisance leylandii is reasonable....'take me to court' ....since they have planted obviously too close to the boundary to keep their trees in their own land and allowed them to encroach into your land where you carry out normal accepted agricultural activities including removing encroaching hedges. In addition. I would point out that if they ALLOW their conifers to overhang and an animal is poisoned as a result they would be liable.

No one will take you to court since they would have to prove financial losses and the branches of leylandii are completely worthless. In addition you are well within your rights to remove anything that encroaches onto your land and airspace.
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby COGGY » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:38 pm

Hi

Send them a letter, by recorded delivery, informing them that should any animals die as a result of eating the branches of their trees they will be responsible in law. That may give them shock.
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby Morgan Sweet » Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:27 am

Thanks for the responses, I would not want to get into any dispute and I think it highly unlikely that I could prove death of an animal since the poison from these trees is cumulative over time. I agree with the helpful sentiments of the replies but again they imply that you should offer the cuttings back, my question remains is this a legal fact? The council's highways division and Environment Agency certainly don't offer any hedge / branch cuttings back to me or anyone else that I know and I do not think I would get very far if I took them to court. I am sure that if what overhangs a property is of some value then you should offer it back but I question that all branch trimmings should be offered back. Regarding damaging a neighbour's tree by cutting back the roots or branches that are on your property, I again question in law how you should support the life of a neighbours tree by letting it thrive on your property. I am (obviously) no legal expert, but it all reminds me of when it was a common thought and stated by Joe Public that a common law wife had the same rights as a married woman; they don't. I just wonder if all this offering back of cuttings is a fact in law.
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby MacadamB53 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:12 am

Hi Morgan Sweet,

my question remains is this a legal fact?

you have a lawful right to remove encroaching branches and roots.
in exercising said right you will end up in possession of someone else's property.
the law has it that if you are in possession of someone else's property then you should make reasonable efforts to reunite the property with its owner.
that is the law - civil law.

separate to this is what happens next.
if said owner, be it the neighbour with the Leylandi or be it you when the council take some of your property, care so little about the loss that they do not try and recover the branches/roots, then so be it - this does not make the first part not law.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby Morgan Sweet » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:51 am

Thanks for the clarification Mac.

Has anyone brought a successful civil action to get back hedge/branch trimmings?

An observation, a tree with branches overhanging a property has most likely trespassing proportionate roots obtaining nourishment for the overhanging branch from the property.

Kind regards

Morgan
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby mr sheen » Sun Jun 07, 2015 5:12 pm

You seem to want a black nd white answer to the legal position which is as always....grey.
There will be those that present an argument and those that defend the opposite....which is why there are so many lawyers.

The claim would be a small claim so there would be no substantive records of success or otherwise.

To be successful a claimant has a number of hurdles to jump and has to prove that the balance of evidence is on their side and then has to prove losses that can be compensated for in monetary compensation. It is rightful to remove overhanging branches. It is accepted that in an agricultural area, normal agricultural practices will prevail. It would be extremely difficult to prove that overhanging branches had any monetary worth in today's economy...hence a claim would be pretty pointless and fruitless.
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby MacadamB53 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:08 pm

Hi mr sheen,

It would be extremely difficult to prove that overhanging branches had any monetary worth in today's economy...

going slightly off topic, so apologies to the forum, but I wonder whether the above holds true if the perpetrator is removing branches on an industrial scale and then converting the arising into woodchip as a money saving/spinning exercise?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby mr sheen » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:53 pm

Only a Judge could decide Mac but at a just a couple of quid a bag for mulch and the equipment needed pretty costly to buy and run, the industrial scale you imagine would need to cover the whole of a county probably....next problem...find a county where all trees overhang onto land of single person cos only the neighbouring landowner can cut back to boundary....so I guess the scenario you have dreamt up is pretty inconceivable.
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Re: Offering Hedge Cuttings

Postby MacadamB53 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:17 pm

Hi mr sheen,

thanks for answering and clearing things up.

Appreciative regards, Mac
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